Was Marilyn Monroe Bisexual?

Marilyn Monroe

On June 1 1926, the movie icon Marilyn Monroe was born. She became and remains one of the most iconic symbols of feminine beauty ever created by Hollywood.

She was married three times to very different men: James Dougherty, a Merchant Marine; Joe DiMaggio, the baseball great; and Arthur Miller, the intellectual playwright. She was also linked romantically to many famous men, including both Robert and John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra and noted bisexual Marlon Brando.


And apparently, there were women, too. Many biographers and historians have chronicled the history of relationships that the actress had with women. Some even suggest that had she not died in 1962 at the age of 36, she may even have been open about her sexual plurality.


Marilyn was rumored to have liaisons with notorious bisexuals such as Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck. But she has also been connected to noted heterosexual vixens such as Elizabeth Taylor, Paula Strasberg and Betty Grable.

Grable is quoted as saying Marilyn’s attention toward her was “sometimes scary,” and Judy Garland says she was propositioned by Marilyn many times.


In a memoir by actress Jane Lawrence entitled “My Little Secret,” the author details a sexual relationship with Marilyn. It’s a sizzling encounter: “My pulse leaped as Marilyn kissed my thigh again… she then leaned in and kissed me full on the lips, very softly and very slowly. I was nearly hyperventilating.” She goes on to quote Marilyn as saying, “Whatever your sexual preference is, it means nothing – love is love.”

Actress Brigitte Bardot mentioned in her own memoirs about a reception for Queen Elizabeth in 1956 when she met Marilyn in the ladies restroom and she was seduced by the blonde bombshell.

Marilyn’s “How to Marry A Millionaire” director Jean Negulesco has famously quoted Marilyn. “She told me once she had never had an orgasm with a man in her entire life” and he notably adds a pause when repeating the memory and adds, “with a man.”

The director also said, “’Her whole existence was a search for identity, and her sexual identity was a complete lie.”


What may have been Marilyn’s longest and most intense relationship with a woman was with her acting coach Natasha Lytess. They moved in together in 1950 and that fueled even more rumors.


Author Sarah Churchwell in “The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe” notes many instances of the actresse’s bisexuality even though many biographers still leave the question open for interpretation. She notes a bisexual twist on the “Wrong Door Raid” when Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio burst into Marilyn’s apartment expecting to find her with a voice coach. They truly expected to find her with a woman, perhaps her acting coach.

In a thoughtful piece about Marilyn, John Fiske, a cultural critic, writes, “The gay community for instance circulates the knowledge of which apparently straight stars are actually gay, and thus knew, long before the general public, for instance, that Rock Hudson was gay, and Marilyn Monroe was bisexual.”

Then, feminist author Lois W. Banner, penned a new biography of Marilyn called Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, and said the actress “desired women, had affairs with them, and worried that she might be lesbian by nature.”

Banner, a gender-studies professor at the University of Southern California, questioned, “How could she be the world’s heterosexual sex goddess and desire women? How could she have the world’s most perfect body on the outside and have such internal imperfections? The adult Marilyn was haunted by these questions.”


About Author

Mike Szymanski

Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.”

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